In both “Pied Beauty” and “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”, Gerard Manley Hopkins celebrates the variability of God’s creations and the wonder of his work. Each poem begins by listing out numerous creatures designed by God. In “Pied Beauty”, Hopkins notes with wonder the sheer number of things God has made that have spots. He writes, “Glory be to God for dappled things— / For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow; / For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; / Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings; . . . “ (page 775). The variety of creatures continues with “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” with winged animals like dragonflies and kingfishers. For Hopkins, the variability of God’s creations point to the power and wonder of his work.
The kingfisher poem takes Hopkins’ views a step farther to explore the relationship between God and creation. Hopkins sees the relationship as an open one. He writes, “the just man justices; / Keeps grace; that keeps all his goings graces; / Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is” (page 777). As much as human beings can deceive and hide from one another, Hopkins’ God can see through every disguise to the true nature of the creatures he has made. Hopkins describes God as someone who can see everyone for what they truly are.
In addition, God is portrayed as being everywhere. He is revealed in all places and among the faces of all of his creations. Hopkins states, “ for Christ plays in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his / To the Father through the features of men’s faces” (page 777). In this poem, God’s power is revealed to us in the infinite number of human faces. For Hopkins, the wonder and majesty of God can be found in nature all around him. He sees every living thing as one of God’s creations.
For Hopkins, the many faces of humanity seem to artistically represent God’s power. Oddly, many Islamic religious groups refuse to use human features in their artwork for fear of creating idolatrous images. Instead, they use tessellations and geographic designs to show God’s infinite power. However, even the difference in these two viewpoints seems to further Hopkins’ original point—God created an enormous range of creatures with different appearances, thoughts, and feelings, and the individual differences we see are merely further examples of God’s power.